You may think, the title is a bit exaggerated. Yes, it is. But I could not find a better wording for the subject of this post.
The fresh material for this “analyze” was of course USO QF between Thiem and Nadal.
I have some observation about that in mind, but I don’t recall other similar in such detailed way.
I think, it was just this set, when Thiem lost the match.
Generally the impact of a bagel, especially ion first set, depends on who you are any how it happened. Was this the real measure of the game levels in this match, on this day, between these opponents? Should it have been, next set would end with another bagel or breadstick.
Now imagine, you are Thiem and you bagel your opponent in a QF of a slam, where you are rather a novice at this stage and your opponent is one of the greatest of the sport and there is no reason to think, he has an off day or is hurt or the like.
If you are Thiem, there is another important aspect – your big respect for the opponent. So you feel maybe not so good after having bagelled him. Even if you feel, you game was outstanding, you still cannot understand, why your great opponent could not even win a single game. Maybe he is hurt? How to play against the opponent, you respect so much and you bagel him in a slam, where he is assumed to reach the final and maybe win the title and you are happy to have reached QF for the first time on this surface?
It’s a mix of consciousness and subconsciousness. You cannot control your reactions 100%.
Maybe you think, this was an accident at work and now the opponent starts to play his usual top level. So you are a kind of scared of your starting success. But at the same time, you must think, you are maybe playing that big, that the opponent cannot find the answer, so next 2 sets can look like the first and you are close to some gigantic win.
But you like and respect the opponent, so maybe you think – it would not be nice, to produce triple bagel just against this opponent.
How it works, if this is not Thiem and opponent is not Nadal. The routine is different, but the result similar. After bagelling the opponent in first set you don’t know, what really happens, because this is rare for men (not so rare for women) and if the opponent is not hurt, he can still “regroup” and win next set. The third is then the first “normal” set in the match, very often going into tie-breaker.
CONCLUSION: if it’s not because the opponent is hurt/injured/ill, it’s better not to bagel the opponent in first set. Which does not mean, you should give deliberately one game away. If you do, it can end with giving away more games or even lose the set and waste the advantage of leading by 1:0.
The psychology is similar to the case of high lead in tiebreaker. The leading player can lose focus because of not feeling under pressure anymore. But the pressure is necessary to stay focused and play usual game until the end.
ANOTHER CONCLUSION: if both opponents are comparable in tennis skills, it’s very probable, the winner is the one, who can deal better with such situation. Kind of BEING UNDER PRESSURE BECAUSE OF NOT BEING UNDER PRESSURE 😉
Updated 2.10.2018, 15:31
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